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towards the creative society: 21st century social dynamics

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The prospects for prosperity and well-being in the 21st century will depend on leveraging social diversity to encourage technological, economic and social dynamism. A striking confluence of forces over the next twenty years could drive a twofold convergence: first, towards more highly differentiated and complex societies, and second, towards the adoption of a common set of general policy goals that are conducive to both diversity and social sustainability. In the opening decades of the 21st century four simultaneous and powerful societal transformations will give rise to more variety and interdependence: from the uniformity and obedience of the mass-era to the uniqueness and creativity of a knowledge economy and society; from rigid and isolated command planning to flexible, open and rule-based markets; from predominantly agricultural structures to industrial urbanization; and lastly, from a relatively fragmented world of autonomous societies and regions to the dense and indispensable interdependencies of an integrated planet. In different ways and in different parts of the world, greater social complexity will in all likelihood accompany these wrenching shifts. Rather than fear this increase in social diversity we should welcome the opportunities for learning and sharing that could bring prosperity and well-being. Nevertheless, there are risks of heightened conflict due to the possible polarization that frequently accompanies the passing of old social orders and the emergence of new ones. Policy choices will be the determining factor in minimizing this friction and encouraging the potential synergies.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2000


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